Saturday, April 01, 2006

Dill and garlic pickled spring radishes

Constantly inspired by the abundance of vibrant bouquets found this time of year at springtime, sometimes I purchase too many radishes than we can possibly eat. They are perfect. When I was presented to my husband’s aunt in Paris for the first time, she served a nice fresh bunch of spring radishes to begin the meal with our aperitif, and to be completely honest, at that moment with everyone gazing expectantly at me, I was under a bit of pressure to eat one. Up until that time I never really thought of radishes as something that good to eat. But I bit into that little bunch of spring and it seemed to explode with life. It was the first time I actually enjoyed eating a fresh radish. Maybe I just never had a good one.

When they’re small and crispy and tender with that little whisper of spice, they are simply irresistible and I cannot pass them up now. If you are like me and suffer from radish fever every year, lose your head and just pile your market basket with them, not thinking about the fact that they only stay crisp and delicious for a day or two, you can put some up like pickles. This idea to pickle them came at just the right time from an article by Gwenaëlle Leprat in Regal, but I chose dill over tarragon to flavor the brine and made my own adjustments, increasing the garlic and aromatics because I am just like that.

About the vinegar - I had the best pickle of my life at a covered market in St. Petersburg Russia. When I was trying to decide what vinegar to use for this recipe, my mind kept wandering to those amazing pickles, and I asked myself what kind of vinegar they might use. Nothing fancy. Simple is best. The best thing to do before you make a batch of pickles is to taste the vinegar and make sure you like the way it tastes.

The recipe:
3 bunches of fresh spring radishes
a handful of grelot onions (the little white ones)
2 cloves of garlic
3 branches of dill
2 European bay leaves or 1 California bay leaf
18 coriander grains
18 black pepper grains
a tablespoon of salt
a half liter of vinegar (your choice of vinegar)

Break off the leaves from the radishes, and put them in a water bath. Agitate the bath to make the sand fall to the bottom, and work over them with your fingers to remove any dirt or sand that may be still clinging to them, paying close attention to the stem ends. Do this two or three times in a fresh bath of water each time and once you’re satisfied that they are clean, lay them out on a towel to dry. Sprinkle with the salt and let them sit for an hour. Peel the onions and garlic. Wash your dill weed. Put the radishes, onions, bay, fresh dill weed, coriander and peppercorns into a glass jar that seals tightly. Pour in the vinegar, put th elid on the jar, and let sit in the fridge for as long as you like. After even a few hours they begin to taste pretty good. Mme Leprat recommends that they sit for 2 months, but I don't think that's going to happen.



Blogger L Vanel said...

Note to readers: These pickled radishes turned out wonderfully. Note that the red color of the radishes seeps from them into the fluid and the radishes are left a pale pink color. When they are first soaking, you might think they'll turn out too acidic, but at about the 2 month mark they take on a mellow garlicky flavor and the taste of the dill comes through, tasking like really good pickles.

11:18 AM, June 02, 2006  
Blogger Omnipadme said...

I tried this recipe and it really came out delicious. Thanks!

6:37 PM, January 29, 2010  
Blogger L Vanel said...

I am going to try this with black radishes, the winter ones we have at the market right now.

10:25 PM, February 18, 2011  
Anonymous PeteH said...

I'll bet this would work very well with half-inch-thick slices of daikon.

5:46 PM, June 06, 2012  

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